It is so difficult to distance the artist from the art they create, and it is even more difficult to experience a piece of art with a completely objective mindset. When I listen to music I consider the people who are making it, where they come from, what they have gone through, etc. I think about past works, and how the current sound compares to the former sound. And because of that, I don’t think I can possibly give a fair review of Fight Softly. The Ruby Suns are a New Zealand band, and they make music that sounds like it came from New Zealand (sunny and exciting and dense). I first started listening to them a few years ago, on their 2008 album Sea Lion; I thought they sounded like an ethnic Animal Collective. I thought their light take on the freak-folk experimentation was fun to listen to, but not nearly as good as that of Animal Collective. Nonetheless they sounded like a solid band, comfortable with their sound. But my have they turned that sound upside down. Fight Softly is an electronic, summery dance album. I can’t even believe it is the same band. Gone are the jangling accoustic guitars and Sung Tongs-esque harmonies, they have been replaced by synths and clapping and tropical beats that make you want to stand and dance towards the sun. I was sad to see that the first song to leak, “Cranberry” is still the best song on the album. But the rest of the album flows well, it’s just that the rest of the tracks don’t stand out as much. I don’t think I like this kind of music as much as their earlier stuff, but I think it’s a pleasant, onset of spring listen that should attract new followers for the band. If you haven’t heard them before, I recommend listening to this album and Sea Lion, in no particular order, but just to examine what a change these guys have gone through.
Sorry for stealing, the album comes out on March 2.